End of Era: Could Saturday be the last delegate convention in Canadian history?

Could Saturday be the last time we see a brokered delegate convention in Canada? Saturday’s Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention will not only be the end of Dalton McGuinty’s sixteen years of leadership, nine of which were spent as Premier, but could also be the last brokered delegate convention we see in Canada for some time. Almost all political parties have moved to a one member one vote system, a concept rejected by the Ontario Liberal Party in the 90’s when it decided the format to choose the successor to David Peterson. Their compromise was a new delegate brokered convention where member’s where asked to vote for the leadership candidate of their choice, and then choose the delegates they wished to attend the convention on a separate portion of the ballot. The Liberal Party of Canada soon adopted the same system and used in their 2003 and 2006 leadership races. In 2009 the party voted to move to the one member one vote system, which they will be using to choose their next leader in 2013. Needing to inject some energy into their party the Progressive Conservatives decided to move from one member on to vote back to a delegate convention in 2002 to choose the successor to Joe Clark, which created one of the most controversial moments in Canadian history when Stephen Orchard wrote on a napkin a list of demands to Peter MacKay to send his delegates to him, one of which was that there would be no merger with the then Canadian Alliance. Less then six months later MacKay broke that promise and the party merged with Stephen Harper’s Canadian Alliance. This brings us to perhaps to the saddest anecdote regarding the death of this phenomenon. Delegate conventions make for great television and provide us with historic moments that shape our country’s history. The 2008 Democratic nomination taught us that baring major rule changes to the primary system, we will never see a brokered convention in the United States. With Clinton and Obama dragging the race into the summer several weeks before the convention, not only did it look like the Democrats would not know the winner until they got to Denver, but it may be a multi ballot convention, their first since 1952. That was not the case as the so called “super delegates” count on endorsements gave Obama a slim victory and the nomination. The convention did provide a dramatic when Clinton in a sign of party unity herself moved on the convention floor that the roll call be interrupted and that Obama be nominated by unanimous consent. Otherwise the 2008 Democratic Convention was like any other modern convention, a bloated rally of speeches, loud music and balloons that don’t quite drop on time. In Canada we don’t have such events. In 1967 the Progressive Conservative Party filed into Maple Leaf Gardens for a multi ballot brokered convention that choose Robert Stanfield as its new leader. The Liberal Party of Canada followed suit with their own made for television spectacle when they choose Pierre Trudeau in the Ottawa Civic Centre, officially ushering in the era of the modern brokered convention. Then the fun began. Stanfield would stick around for three elections before resigning in 1975. The PC’s limped into the Ottawa Civic Centre in 1976 with no shortage of shenanigans. We would be introduced to the term “Flora Syndrome” supposed front runner, Flora MacDonald finished a disappointing fourth on the first ballot despite being perceived as potentially finishing either first or second. Observers even noticed that t-shirts and buttons being worn by delegates grossly outnumbered her first ballot support. MacDonald would move her delegates to third place finisher, Joe Clark who would go onto to be everybody’s second choice and win the convention on the final ballot. This convention also marked the emergence of video technology along with more cameras in the hall. The biggest innovation introduced during this convention was the close up split screen showing each candidate’s physical reaction to the results of the ballot, a practice continued to this day. One side of the screen showed the winner and the other showed the loser, kind of like the Oscars. Previous conventions had used this technology, including the NDP convention a year earlier, but the PC’s where the official opposition to the new system was on display on its largest stage. The Progressive Conservatives would be back at it again in 1983. With a huge lead in the polls and destined to form the next government, Joe Clark felt that his 67 percent endorsement from the party wasn’t enough and decided to seek a new mandate from his party. He didn’t get it. Instead a gang up awarded the convention to Brian Mulroney. Like in 1968, the Liberals followed suit with their own convention. This one choose John Turner over future Prime Minister, Jean Chretien. Unlike the PCs a year earlier, this wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Turner had been the party’s establishment’s choice to replace Pierre Trudeau for some time now. Chretien would get his redemption six years later in Calgary with a lopsided victory reminiscent of an American style convention in which to the victor was long predetermined beforehand. Chretien’s landside victory, including sweeping the entire province of Newfoundland began to raise doubts about the delegate convention being controlled by money and backroom players. The Parti Quebecois in Quebec decided to go with the one member one vote system to elect the successor to Rene Leveque in 1985. The Ontario Progressive Conservatives exhausted and broke from two delegate conventions in one calendar year decided to adopt the one member one vote when they choose Mike Harris in 1990. Rise of the populist Reform Party in the west also showed that the country and more and provincial parties switching to membership vote, the delegate convention was dying a slow death. All of these factors were considered when the Ontario Liberal Party decided how they were going to choose the successor to David Peterson. The party decided to keep the delegate system with a new twist. This played out in Hamilton in 1992 and Toronto in 1996 as the party went through several ballots, deal making and weary convention attendees to choose Lynne McLeod and Dalton McGuinty during those respective meetings. The Liberals also adopted this system when it came to choosing Jean Chretien’s successor and used it again in 2006 when it choose its new leader. By 2006 the Liberal Party of Canada and Ontario were almost the last political parties to not be a membership vote. It is almost safe to say that Saturday’s convention will be a made for tv multiple ballot affair. Under the lights of the old Maple Leaf Gardens the next premier of Canada’s largest province will be broadcast on various cable stations so the home audience can see one last glimpse of a delegate brokered convention in Canadian politics. Attempts to make the one member one vote system television friendly have proven to be disasters, especially by the NDP in 2012, when the results were already predetermined and the party decided to go ahead with multiple ballots causing delay and anger on all sides. The Ontario Liberal Party hasn’t switched to the one member system yet, and it will probably be on the agenda the next its constitution is up for amendment. The Liberal Party of Canada is in the midst of its first one member system leadership since adopting it in 2009, so divine wisdom would predict that the Ontario Party will do the same. If it does, Saturday’s proceedings could be the last we ever see in this country for some time to come.


No Balloons!


It’s so fun.  Loud music, confetti and yes, balloons! The candidate and their running mate along with their families clap and point to the party faithful for a solid ten minutes with the spirit of a highs school pep assembly right before the big game.  Truly a marvel in American politics, but it is not all fun.Maybe Democrats were worried about "The Balloon Drop Curse".

No one can forget it when CNN microphones captured the convention floor director cursing his technical staff to release more balloons as John Kerry accepted his party’s nomination in Boston in 2004.  In all honesty the majority of balloons did find their way to intended location, but the director’s verbal displeasure with the timing and it being broadcasted to the entire nation led this incident to be categorized as a “Balloon Drop Curse”.  Democratic officials began to cringe as they remembered 1980 in New York City, when after Jimmy Carter accepted the party’s nomination, balloons tricked down one by one from the ceiling of Madison Square Garden.

What curse? It’s only balloons. No, it’s bigger then that.  Both campaigns were ahead in the polls at the time, albeit by a small margin and both would go on to lose the November election.  It shows poor organization of the convention organizers who were hand picked by the party causing a ripple effect that reflects on the candidates themselves.  The party has only once every four years to display itself to a national audience and if it can’t have a net attached to the ceiling come lose allowing inflated latex to shower the arena floor, what can it do?

Yesterday it was announced that the convention speech was being moved indoors due to weather concerns, unlike in 2008 when it was held outdoors and open to the public, not just convention attendees.  T  After the 2004 incident referring to such an occurrence as a curse became popularized and every convention since then the television networks to focus on the possibility of another mishap.  The same years as the Boston flap, George W. Bush’s acceptance speech was infiltrated by hecklers, but nobody remembers that.  We remember the balloons.


Dear Quebec, Your New NDP MP May Not Speak French or Even Visited Your Riding

Pylon candidates are nothing new. Usually they are party insiders that put their name on a ballot with high expections they will return to their normal routine once the election is over. Previously the NDP was a master at this. They would usually move their resources and volunteers to ridings they had a chance of winning, including those who are on the ballot in other ridings. The NDP has always ran candidates in Quebec with franco sounding names, who are busy in Manitoba or Ontario getting out the vote. Think the Conservative Candidates are hard to find? Try to find an NDP candidate in Quebec. They won't even register their URL names, all you can find is an ambigious e-mail on the central website that may or may not connect to their campaign.
The NDP has long sought proportional representation, and now they are getting it. If their numbers hold you will have forty or fifty new Quebec MPs who can't speak a word of french and only experience in Quebec is making the 10pm run across the river to Hull when the LCBO closes in Ottawa.

Jack Mulroney and another Reckless Coalition

Jack Layton is looking for power. He will do anything to potentially become Prime Minister, and feels justified in lies and reckless campaigning because he feels the most vunerable Canadians will be better off if he succeeds. Sorry Jack, it's been done and the country is not better off as a result. In 1988 Canadians went to the polls to what would be unbeknownst at the time, but the last election with the 2 1/2 party system. Four years earlier Brian Mulroney couldn't be content with a comfortable majority, he literally thought he could make the PCs the naturally governing party and ran two campaigns, one appealing to western populists and the other to nationalist Quebecers. The result was the largest seat total in Canadian history. He wasn't done. In order to stick it to his predecessor, Pierre Trudeau, he sought to succeed where Trudeau had failed, by bringing Quebec into the Constitution. The result was the Meech Lake Accord in 1987. This odd couple would stay together through the next campaign as Mulroney swept Alberta and maintained a comfortable plurality in Quebec to become the second Progressive Conservative Leader to form two consecutive majority governments despite dropping in every other section of the country. The ink wasn't dry Chief Electoral Officer's sanctioning of the 1988 results when this marriage went straight to divorce court. An upstart movement called the Reform Party led by Preston Manning, son of former Alberta Premier Ernest Manning was formed on the eve the 1988 vote in protest to the Mulroney Government's obession with Quebec. After finishing second in several ridings in Alberta in 1988, they shocked the world by winning a by-election in 1989. This would give them the clout required to fight the next election. Things were not all so rosey in La Belle Province. The Meech Lake Accord was ready to die a slow death as the 80's turned into the 90's. Well known separatist,Mulroney confidant and futue Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard would abruptly resign from the Mulroney Goverment over protest to concessions made in the accord from another future Quebec Premier, Jean Charest. All it would take was the wave of an eagle feather in the Manitoba Legislature and the accord was dead. The result, a $300 million egofest for Mulroney to salvage his tatered place in Canadian history called the Charlottetown Accord, followed by the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada being moved into a vegetative state until its death in 2003, a western protest movement whose solidiers would eventually come to power in Canada in 2006 on lies and slander, then destroy the very fabric of this country, a resurgence of separatist movement in Quebec with a referendum in 1995 that nearly broke up the country. So Mr. Layton, you want play both sides of the coin to gain more seats and possibly come to power. History has taught that more seats and power can come at a cost.


Nordique Nation, the NHL's Teaparty Movement

A funny thing happened on the way to the Nassau Colieseum on Saturday night. Over one thousand fans of a team that no longer exists showed up for the game. These band of rebel rousers were taking a grassroots approach to securing an NHL franchise for their city. One could ask why they choose Long Island as the launch of their cross continent campaign? The Islander's play in a grossly outdated building and two amateur hockey teams, the London Knights and Quebec City's own Ramprants both outdraw them. Which would lead one to believe that is crew was set on poaching the Islander's from their forty year home. Well that was not the case as many of these die hards told the Islander fans that they had no interest in their team and simply were looking for other NHL team's fans, particularly American teams to support their cause.
All I can say it won't be easy. It is safe to say that the newest NHL city will be in Canada. With the Canadian dollar at par with the American dollar and all six Canadian teams selling out every night, the NHL has no choice but to have a team move or expand to Canada. Winnipeg has gone as far to take the "Field of Dreams" approach and have already built an NHL ready facility. Clearly though the Southern Ontario market is where the league has set its eyes on. Even the powerful Detroit Redwing franchise has endorsed a new team in Southern Ontario going as far as insisting that they play in their division, hence lowering their travel costs.
The old Nordiques were truly a sad story. Part of the WHA-NHL merger in 1979, they were closest thing the NHL had to the Green Bay Packers. Nords fans would fill Le Colissee to the rafters despite spending most of the late 80's and early nineties in the cellar of the Adams Division. The beginning of the end happened when first round draft pick and next superstar, Eric Lindros refused to report to the club. With a low Canadian dollar and a new threat of Quebec Separatism in the air, the Nordiques were doomed no mater how many people went through the turnstiles. To make matters worse their incarnation in Denver Colorado would win the Stanely Cup in their first year. A second one would follow in 2001. All of these factors alone should make Quebec City the "People's Choice" for the newest NHL city.
Clearly one set of hockey fans have decided that enough is enough and they are taking it to the streets. Half empty arenas in the Southern United States could be the next target of the NHL's Teaparty movement. No longer will Canadian hockey fans tolerate Stanley Cup parades in shopping mall parking lots, hokey on ice promotions and consistently seeing their heroes sign with clubs simply so they can play golf in the afternoon. Will this movement go as far as dumping the original architect of this fiasco, Garry Bettemen. The same man who never saw a hockey game until he was forty years old has been at the forefront of two labour stoppages and no network television deal in the US. Perhaps during their time in New York they could storm his plush office and take over the league and see that true hockey fans have the right to see the best of the best play, not just the corporate suits currently occupying most of the Canadian NHL arenas.


The Home Team Super Bowl Curse?

Last weeks Grey Cup was special because for the second year in a row the league's most passionate fans' team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were in the final. Not to mention that those fans had only an eight or nine hour drive to the host city, it made for an interesting partisan crowd, almost a home game for the green riders. Home teams at the Grey Cup are nothing new. With only eight teams there is bound to be a team that makes the final in the year their city hosts the big game. Which lead to another question? Why has a team never played in their home stadium at the Super Bowl?

Two examples come to mind in which the designated host team did in fact make it to the final game, but didn't play in their home stadium. Both the Los Angles Rams in 1979 and San Francisco 49ers in 1984 were the designated home team, yet private boxes had not become the big business that they would eventually therefore those games were played at college stadiums to maximize attendance and revenue. The NFL has since abandoned this practice, going as far to recommend to cities like Miami and Atlanta that they must upgrade their luxury boxes if they want to host any future Super Bowls. The last college stadim Super Bowl game would happen in 1993 as a last minute back up after the game was pulled from Phoenix Arizona.

The NCAA finals last year had the improbable happen when the designate host team made it to the final, not in their home building though, but still an astonishing feat in a field of 66 playoff contenders. Why can't a team in a field of 32, with only 12 in the playoffs make it to the final when their city is hosting the big game?

Back in 1971, it was learned that the NFL was about to award a Super Bowl to Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, but the bid was blocked by a group of owners lead by Al Davis claimng the Cowboys had a good chance of playing in that game. Instead the game was moved to New Orleans, where the Cowboys faced off against the Miami Dolphins. Perhaps this was a sign of things to come. From 1974 to 1982 the NFL rotated from New Orleans, Los Angeles and Miami. This could have been seen as simple math given those cities infastructure as tourist towns, but also 2 of those teams did not enjoy allot of success in the 7o's. Miami on the other hand would play in three Super Bowls in a row, but none would take place in their home stadium, the Orange Bowl, fueling curse theories. The Los Angeles Rams would shock the football world by making it to the big game in 1979, ironically after not hosting any playoff games. As far as the New Orleans Saints, that would not have a winning season until the late 80's.

The three city rotation would end in the 80's as Super Bowls would be held in Tampa Bay, Detroit and San Diego, but still no host team. Miami would leave a bad taste in the mouth of NFL with the 1979 game, with hotels charging high fees and cocaine dealers attending the festivities. The game would not return for another ten years when the new Joe Robbie Stadium was built. The absence also could be looked on with the arrival of Dan Marino in 1983, making Miami look like a perenial contender, thus a pontential host team. By the time Super Bowl came back in 1989, the Dolphins weren't even a playoff team and Marino had not lived up to his earlier successes.

This season it looks as though the curse will continue as the Dallas Cowboys are unlikely to make the playoffs, the first year they have ever been the host team. With the league's desire to balance between domes and outdoor venues the curse may come to an end. Although the Colts look shaky this year, next year they host the big game and could very well be playing in it. New Orleans will be next, but this time the Saints will be three years removed from their own Super Bowl victory, unlike in the past. With the decision to play in New York in 2014 and both the Jets and the Giants loaded with young talent one of them or maybe both will play in the first cold weather game. Traditional Super Bowl teams like Pittsburgh and New England may never see the big game held in their cities, other up and coming franchises like San Diego, Houston and Arizona may have short bus rides to their date with destiny.


Jaffer Looking Like Elvis in his Final Days

Well forget the fact that the judge used to be the Chief of Staff to the former Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for the riding in which the trial took place, or that the judge was appointed by the current Attorney General when he held the same post for the Ontario Government, or the sentencee's push for tougher impaired driving charges as an MP or that his wife was the regional Minister, lets look at Mr. Jaffer's resemblence to another well known pill popper that indulged in strange behaviour when his career was in decline, the King himself. Perhaps that played a role in this favourable ruling. As this country moves towards a two tier justice system, at least we can see a future for Mr. Jaffer and in the riding of his wife nonetheless, as Collingwood Ontario located in the riding of Simcoe Grey is home to the largest Elvis impersonator festival in the world.


Look Mom, I am on TV

http://torontoist.com/2010/02/jack_layton_wants_you_to_make_sure_you_see_him_celebrating.phpIt looks innocent i real time, but in slow mo it looks like passive assault. Will this man do anything to get on camera?